Used 407 v GT

Which stylish coupé will TV’s Mike choose: Peugeot 407 or Alfa GT?

Looking good needn’t break the bank – and here is the proof! Coupés combine great styling with sporty per­formance, and second-hand prices of the Peugeot 407 and Alfa Romeo GT now start from £8,000.

Both have a pair of rear seats and a decent-sized boot, so if you’ve got a growing family and can’t bear the thought of parking an MPV on your drive, you could do worse than one of these cars. But which gets my vote? We paid a visit to the AvailableCar supermarket at Castle Donington in Derbyshire to find out...

What you get Coupés are impractical, right? Wrong! The Alfa Romeo comes with a useful hatchback and the Peugeot has 400 litres of load space under its bootlid. Both feature folding rear seats, too, so larger objects will also fit inside.

With its flared arches and shield-shaped grille, the GT looks every inch an Alfa, and the distinctive Pug can’t match it for kerb appeal. Pull up next to a shop window, look at your reflec­tion and you’ll see what I mean. You will want to be in the Italian car!

The Alfa also has the more attract­ive interior, with sporty instruments borrowed from the 147 hatchback, as well as simple rotary controls for the heating and ventilation.

In contrast, the confusing centre console of the 407 has more buttons than the space shuttle – although it does have an ace up its sleeve. While headroom is tight for adults in the back, there’s plenty of legroom, and kids will find it much more spacious than the Alfa. If you’ve got teenagers, this alone could determine which one you end up with in your garage!

On the road Anything with an Alfa badge on the nose should be sporty and exciting, and the GT doesn’t disappoint. Mind you, the lusty old 3.2 V6 is no longer in production and while it’s by far the most charismatic engine, group 19 insurance and fuel consumption of 23mpg make it one for Alfa diehards only. The 1.9-litre JTD Multijet diesel and 2.0-litre petrol models are the most sensible options second-hand thanks to their blend of strong performance and decent fuel economy.

It’s the same story with the Peugeot. Its V6 petrol is smooth but thirsty, so I’d go for the entry-level 2.2-litre petrol or, better still, the 2.0 HDi, which returns 48mpg. But where the Alfa has the feel of a tight-fitting sports shoe, the Pug is more like a pair of comfortable slippers – and far more suited to cruising than bruising.

Prices The Alfa GT arrived in 2004, and the cheapest second-hand examples cost about £8,000. For that you’ll get a high-mileage diesel, but shop privately and you could find something with fresher legs for the same money.

Around £10,000 buys the keys to a 2005 2.0 JTS or 1.9 JTD with 50,000 miles from a used dealer. If you want a younger model, low-mileage 07-reg cars will set you back about £15,000 at franchised showrooms.

The Peugeot hasn’t enjoyed the same success as its gorgeous 406 Coupé predecessor, so it’s quite rare second-hand. There are cars out there, though. I managed to find a 54-reg HDi with 74,000 miles on the clock for £7,999, while the cheapest 2.7 V6 diesels will set you back around £13,000. It’s fast and refined, yet CO2 emissions of 225g/km and real world fuel consumption of around 30mpg make it the less practical oil-burner.

Problem points Our Pug hasn’t been on sale for long enough to develop any major issues, but you certainly need to pay close attention to its Jimmy Hill-style chin! That jutting jaw is easy meat for tall kerbs and speed bumps, so check for broken front number plates and scratched or cracked bumpers.

Mind you, the overhang is there for a good reason: pedestrian safety. If you’re going to get run over by anything, make it a 407 Coupé! In Euro NCAP’s independent crash tests, it achieved a rare two-star rating for pedestrian protection!

Other concerns are more practical than mechanical. For example, the narrow boot opening means it’s difficult to make the most of the big load area.

A couple of well known trouble spots blight the lovely Alfa. First up are its trendy frameless front windows. They automatically drop a few millimetres whenever you open or close the doors to ensure a tight seal against the rub­ber surround. But they have a habit of playing up, which makes for ill-fitting glass, leaky seals and lots of wind noise – so ensure both sides work properly.

At the back, I can’t get enough of the Alfa’s opening tailgate. It’s much more practical than a saloon bootlid and makes fill­ing the 320-litre load area a doddle. Just watch out on pre-2006 cars, though, as there’s a problem with the spot-welds on the cross­member above the boot opening. Alfa dealers have a fix for it, so if the car you’re looking at makes weird creaking noises from this area, don’t panic!

Verdict

The Peugeot is an affordable, practical coupé with more space in its rear seats and a bigger boot than its rival. But it just doesn’t get my pulse racing. While I’d much rather be a passenger in the back of the Pug than the Alfa, I would prefer to drive the GT. Every- body should own an Alfa at least once in their life, and coupés are all about style, which means the pretty Italian is the clear winner here.

One thing about Alfas is that they are real Marmite cars. You’ll either love it and own a string of models from the brand, or you’ll get sick of it and never buy another one!

However, the marque is currently overhauling its dealer network in a bid to improve customer service. My advice would be to buy a diesel version of the GT and have it maintained by an independent brand specialist – that way, you should get most of the pleasure without all of the pain.

Extra Info

Alfa Romeo GT (2004 on) Prices: £8,000-£20,000Engines: 2.0 and 3.2-litre petrols; 1.9-litre dieselInsurance groups: 15-19Highlights: Great styling, practical tailgate, sporty cabin, good dieselOur car: 55-reg 1.9 JTD with 29,000 miles, £12,995

Peugeot 407 Coupé (2005 on) Prices: £8,000-£25,000Engines: 2.2 and 3.0-litre V6 petrols; 2.0 and 2.7-litre V6 dieselsInsurance groups: 14-16Highlights: Spacious cabin, big boot, solid diesels, rarity valueOur car: 06-reg 3.0-litre V6 SE with 7,000 miles, £13,999

Thanks to: AvailableCar (www.availablecar.com)

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